Murray convenes first meeting of national Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force

Today Mayor Ed Murray is in Washington, D.C. attending the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he convened the first Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force meeting to share best practices and policies regarding police reform. Today’s discussion focused on ways departments can improve police interactions with people in mental health and chemical dependency crisis. Mayor Murray also discussed the Seattle Police Department’s progress towards compliance under a federal consent decree through progressive reform efforts led by Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

“The Seattle Police Department has made remarkable progress in the past two years,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Our efforts have been noted by the federal monitor, who has provided our department with appreciable support as we make significant changes to policies, de-escalation training, and oversight of policing activities. Under the leadership of Chief O’Toole, it is my hope Seattle can serve as a national model of urban policing and reform.”

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) has taken meaningful steps to enhance public trust and carry out reforms to address excessive force and biased policing since being placed under a federal consent decree in 2012. Mayor Murray named Kathleen O’Toole police chief in 2014 to lead the SPD and has been credited by the federal monitor for moving the department forward in its reform efforts. Patrol officers throughout the department have been equipped with enhanced training in de-escalation and in interacting with individuals in crisis due to mental health or chemical dependency. These trainings provide police with vital skillsets that can be used to reduce incidents of use of force. The White House recently recognized SPD’s reform efforts, and invited Chief O’Toole to attend the State of the Union as First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest.

“SPD has made great progress toward reform and our efforts are paying off, but we recognize there is still work to be done,” said Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.  “We will continue to work collaboratively with the community, our federal partners and the monitoring team to enhance public trust and further professionalize the SPD.”

Chief O’Toole also addressed the task force, along with U.S. Department of Justice’s Ron Davis, director of Community Oriented Police Services, and Dr. Antonio Oftelie of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.